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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
“Why didn’t you answer my knock?” he demands. “And why is the door locked?”
I shrug. “Sorry,” I say. “I was drying my hair.” I reach up to fluff the hair in question, hoping he doesn’t notice how unwashed it actually looks. “Wanted to look good for you when you stopped by.”
He relaxes. Men are so easy sometimes. Then he smiles at me. “Everything is prepared,” he tells me. “The coven masters are gathered. We will join together as blood mates tonight.”
“Excellent,” I say, forcing a brave smile. “I can hardly wait.”
For someone who didn’t have too long to prepare, I have to admit, Pyrus did a pretty bang-up job of setting the stage for our blood-mate nuptials. I guess it helps that they’re taking place in the wedding capital of the world. Only in Vegas would you find an already decked-out Gothic wedding chapel, full of vampire kitsch and no religious icons to worry about. He even finds the perfect dress. A full-on replica of Winona Ryder’s Beetlejuice frock. Rayne would be dying of jealousy. (Of the dress anyway. The groom, not so much.)
I glance at the grandfather clock in the chapel waiting room. Only a couple hours ’til dawn. Where is Rayne, anyway? Was Magnus able to get word to her and Jareth about what’s going down tonight? And more important, were they able to stop the zombie queen from bringing her minions to town? So many unknowns. But at least I have two things to comfort me. Magnus loves me. And I will never be forced to become Pyrus’s blood mate.
I wonder if Pyrus will be able to tell, when he bites me, that I already belong to another. Is there a special taste to my blood now that binds me to Magnus forever? Luckily, since Magnus already sampled my blood back in Slayer Inc. prison, there are no gaping fang holes to give my secret away. In fact, since the full transformation takes about a week, right now there’s no visual way at all to tell I’m a vampire. Which buys me a little time, at least. Time for one of my sister’s famous last-minute rescues, for example. After all, it’s her turn, since I rescued her from Slayer Inc. back in Japan. Which now seems like a lifetime ago.
“Are you ready?” asks Trinity, the beautiful blond vampire that Pyrus assigned to help me dress. “They’d like to get started, if you are.”
I reluctantly nod my assent. I’d tried to stall as much as possible while dressing to give my sister time to show up. But I’m running out of excuses and there’s been so sign of her yet. I hope nothing happened to her…
“Sure,” I say. “Let’s get this thing over with.”
Trinity dutifully disappears behind a red velvet curtain and a moment later reappears, just as the organ starts to play. She bows low. “It is ready,” she pronounces. “Your blood mate awaits.”
Here goes nothing. Forcing my feet to take one unwilling step after another, I head into the chapel. The place is packed with coven masters from around the world, seated in rows and facing a cobwebbed lectern at the other end of the room. The high ceilings are dripping in old-fashioned chandeliers, outfitted with black lights, which I guess are supposed to add to the atmosphere but actually only serve to make everyone’s outfits look linty. Red candles have been scattered around the room, casting foreboding shadows on the walls, and there’s even an actual coffin sitting up on a stage, decked in black roses. In other words, about as cliché Goth as you can get. Seriously, the place makes Club Fang look classy.
The organist continues to play some kind of dreadful, dismal tune as I slowly make my way down the bloodred carpet, toward the stage where Pyrus awaits. He’s almost looking nervous as he stands, watching my entrance, dressed in a severe black tux, complete with red silk–lined cape. Rayne always says he looks like that singer from My Chemical Romance, but to me he resembles a young, blond Dracula. And just as scary.
Too soon, I reach the end of the road, finding myself face-to-face with the man of my nightmares. The man once responsible for issuing my death warrant, now wanting to spend eternity by my side. It’s surreal, to say the least, to see him standing there, in front of me, like a Gothic bridegroom. It’s all I can do to stand tall and not shake in fear.
Pyrus reaches out and takes my hands in his own. How can he do this? Bind himself to someone who wants nothing to do with him, solely to gain more power? Has he ever really been in love? Does he have any idea what it’s like to give yourself to another person? Willingly sacrifice your own happiness for theirs? I almost feel bad for the guy. It must be lonely at the top. But he’ll never see that. He’s too consumed with greed and lust for power.
If only the other vampires in the audience could see his true colors. Know what he’s planned. They could still stop him now—before he gains enough power to carry out his plans of world domination. I know there are good, decent vampires in the audience. Ones who respect the human race and would like to see it continue. But they have no idea what their leader has planned.
Maybe I need to tell them!
The thought hits me hard and fast as I realize there probably isn’t a rescue on the horizon. At least not one that will come in time. And once Pyrus realizes that I’ve already given myself to another, it’ll be game over for sure. I have a few precious minutes to speak—not to save myself—but to save the world. I have to take advantage. I may not be kick-ass like my sister, but I sure have a big mouth. And I’m more than ready to use it.
I break from Pyrus’s grasp, turning to the audience and gesturing wildly for their attention. A hush falls over the crowd. The organist stops playing. From beside me, I can hear Pyrus’s dismayed gasp, probably wondering what I’m about to do.